I received this book for reviewing purposes from Random House last month. It was released recently in the UK (on May 10th) but I’ve just discovered on Goodreads that it was also released last year in the US. It didn’t take me long to finish it at just over 400 pages (including additional author content which I also decided to read) but I wouldn’t call it a book that I “couldn’t-put-down”.
This book is the epitome of my thoughts in this blog post. I loved reading the book (most of the time) and I’d happily read it again, yet I don’t think it was written amazingly. Readers on Goodreads have listed The Making Of Us as Chick Lit but I think it fits in better as Contemporary literature considering the “chick lit” aspects are less important in the book.
(My cousin Radiya posted a less critical review of this book on her website so feel free to check that out too ^__^)
In a hospice in Bury St Edmunds, a man called Daniel is slowly fading away. His friend Maggie sits with him every day; she holds his hand and she listens to the story of his life, to his regrets and to his secrets. And then he tells her about the children he has never met and never will. He talks of them wistfully. His legacy, he calls them.
Lydia, Dean and Robyn don’t know each other. Yet. And they are all facing difficult changes. Lydia is still wearing the scars from her traumatic childhood and although she is wealthy and successful, her life is lonely and disjointed. Dean is a young man, burdened with unexpected responsibility, whose life is going nowhere. And Robyn wants to be a doctor, just like her father – a man she’s never met. But is her whole life built on an illusion? Three people leading three very different lives. All lost. All looking for something. But when they slowly find their way into each other’s lives, everything starts to change ..
(This is taken from the Goodreads synopsis of the US version which actually sounds a lot more gripping than the version I was sent by email!)
How much I enjoyed the book: 9/10
How well I think it was written: 6/10
Overall, the story was something I hadn’t read before so I was more than happy to read something so different. On the other hand, I found the beginning of the book difficult to get into. I didn’t really enjoy reading the beginning few chapters until we got to adult Lydia and Dean. I felt like a lot of time was spent on Lydia’s history where it could have been distributed more evenly between the siblings. After reading the additional author content, I’m assuming that Lydia is supposed to be the main character however this isn’t completely evident in the actual book until later. As with all books with multiple narrators, there was also a lot going on in the beginning so it became a bit confusing to keep up with the various characters. To deal with this, I found myself regularly returning to earlier chapters to identify characters.
My favourite characters by far were Lydia and Dean; I loved them almost immediately! Their growing sibling relationships had me squealing from happiness non-stop. I loved the similarities between the two of them and the fact that their personalities mirrored each other (and the fact that they both noticed it!). In contrast, I disliked Robyn’s character when we were first introduced to her. I didn’t like her controlling ways and frankly I feel as though she was presented as the perfect teenager and was unnecessarily placed into the book simply to highlight all of the imperfections of the other two characters. Additionally, Robyn’s story seemed independent to Lydia and Dean’s and didn’t seem to fit in with them until the end.
Speaking of things that didn’t fit in, I really didn’t like reading the chapters from Maggie and Daniel’s perspectives. I get that they’re both crucial characters in the overall story, but in a book which already has multiple narrators I wanted to see more from the siblings and less from everyone else. I especially disliked Daniel’s chapter as the whole book progressed without much focus on his feelings and then all of a sudden we were given his thoughts. I feel like the sudden chapter describing Daniel’s thoughts was very unnecessary and could have easily been excluded. I get that Daniel is important as the sperm donor father, but much like the siblings themselves I found myself feeling indifferent towards him.
Something I found interesting was that all of the siblings somehow looked alike: I loved the scene in which Dean and Lydia compared their noses! But at the same time I felt like it was a bit unrealistic for them all to somehow look-alike. Similarly, it seemed like a lot of the problems within the book were resolved very easily. Although, most of this happened in the last few chapters by which time the momentum had already built up so it was pretty easy to just go with the flow.
In conclusion, despite my complaints I’d still happily recommend this book to any of my friends! If you enjoy romance and family stories this is the book for you!